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Russian operator of airliner downed over Sinai banned from flights

The watchdog banned Kogalymavia from performing domestic and international flights from March 15

MOSCOW, March 16. /TASS/. Russia’s aviation watchdog Rosaviatsia has banned Kogalymavia airline, the operator of an airliner downed late last year over the Sinai Peninsula in a terror attack, from performing domestic and international flights, the watchdog said in a statement on Wednesday.

Rosaviatsia has ordered to ban Kogalymavia from performing domestic and international flights from March 15, the aviation watchdog’s document says.

The decision on banning Kogalymavia from performing domestic and international flights has been made pursuant to the requirements of Russia’s legislation on air communication and the conclusions of inspections that have exposed discrepancies and violations, primarily in the carrier’s financial and economic performance affecting flight safety, the watchdog said.

Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said earlier Kogalymavia’s possible bankruptcy was not disastrous for the aviation industry. Meanwhile, Russia’s Federal Tax Service has already filed a lawsuit to an arbitration court in Moscow on recognizing the airline as bankrupt. The details of the lawsuit have not been disclosed.

Kogalymavia, which operates a fleet of six aircraft, suspended the flights of four A321 airliners in early November 2015 and later terminated the flights of its two A-320 planes. At the same time, the Russian transport watchdog Rostransnadzor cleared Kogalymavia’s airliners for flights after its plane had crashed over the Sinai Peninsula in a terrorist act on October 31, 2015.

Kogalymavia, which uses the Metrojet brand, performed flights to Greece, Egypt, Spain, Cyprus, Turkey and Montenegro.

The airline turned to the Russian government in early December 2015 for state guarantees worth 5 billion rubles ($70 million).

As Russian Transport Minister Sokolov said in early March, Kogalymavia has actually no operational airliners left and the airline either has to submit a plan of its aircraft pool renewal or quit the market. Otherwise, it won’t be able to perform international carriages at the proper level, the transport minister said.

Kogalymavia’s A321 plane, en-route from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, crashed in the early morning of October 31 just 23 minutes after its takeoff. The disaster site was 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of the administrative center of North Sinai Governorate, the city of Al-Arish.

Flight 9268 carried 217 passengers and seven crewmembers and they were all officially announced dead following the tragic accident. Most passengers were Russian nationals. Among the passengers onboard were also four Ukrainian citizens and one Belarusian national.

Russia’s Federal Security Service Chief Alexander Bortnikov reported to President Vladimir Putin on November 17 that the airliner crash had been caused by a bomb with up to 1 kg in TNT equivalent planted on the plane.